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Cultural Studies

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History that repeats itself turns to farce. But a farce that repeats itself ends up making a history.
—from The Agony of Power

Alphabet City Magazine 15
Edited by John Knechtel

The thin layer of atmosphere that clings to the surface of our planet is a fragile and corrupted brew. Air is in constant, restless migration around the globe, connecting us in the most intimate fashion. From the dust storms that sweep into Beijing from faraway deserts to the smog from Chinese factories that shrouds Los Angeles, our air, the ultimate commons, is tragically defenseless. Breathing air is an involuntary physical function, but keeping the air breathable requires acts of political imagination and will.

Notes on a Passion

Most of our theories of laughter are not concerned with laughter. Rather, their focus is the laughable object, whether conceived of as the comic, the humorous, jokes, the grotesque, the ridiculous, or the ludicrous. In Laughter, Anca Parvulescu proposes a return to the materiality of the burst of laughter itself. She sets out to uncover an archive of laughter, inviting us to follow its rhythms and listen to its tones.

"Our job is to tell stories we have heard and to bear witness to what we have seen. The science was already there when we started in 2004, but we wanted to emphasize the human dimension, especially for those most vulnerable."
Guy-Pierre Chomette, Collectif Argos

"Alone in his forest dwelling, an ogre had spent years building machines to force his visitors to make love to one another: machines with pulleys, chains, clocks, collars, leather leggings, metal breastplates, oscillatory, pendular, or rotating dildos. One day, some adolescents who had lost their way, seven or eight brothers, entered the ogre's house..."
—From The Screwball Asses

"Our asshole is revolutionary."
—Guy Hocquenghem

"Workers of the world, masturbate!"
—Front Homosexuel d'Action Revolutionnaire slogan

From Alienation to Autonomy

We can reach every point in the world but, more importantly, we can be reached from any point in the world. Privacy and its possibilities are abolished. Attention is under siege everywhere. Not silence but uninterrupted noise, not the red desert, but a cognitive space overcharged with nervous incentives to act: this is the alienation of our times....
—from The Soul at Work

I like to stand with one leg on each side of the wall. Maybe this is a schizophrenic position, but none other seems to me real enough.
—Heiner Mueller, The German Issue

Alphabet City Magazine 14
Edited by John Knechtel

Water is the chemical matrix required for life, the molecular chain that connects all organisms on the planet. But in the twenty-first century, water may replace oil as the most prized of resources. Just as gas-guzzling SUVs use more than their share of fuel, water-guzzling regions threaten the water supply for the rest of the world. In Water, writers, scientists, architects, and artists consider the many aspects of water, at levels from the microscopic to the global, touching on subjects that range from new water infrastructures to ancient bathing rituals.

Paradox or Dialectic?

“What matters is not so much that Žižek is endorsing a demythologized, disenchanted Christianity without transcendence, as that he is offering in the end (despite what he sometimes claims) a heterodox version of Christian belief.”--John Milbank“To put it even more bluntly, my claim is that it is Milbank who is effectively guilty of heterodoxy, ultimately of a regression to paganism: in my atheism, I am more Christian than Milbank.”--Slavoj ŽižekIn this corner, philosopher Slavoj Žižek, a militant atheist who represents the critical-materialist stance against religion’s illusions; in the oth

According to Peter Sloterdijk, the twentieth century started on a specific day and place: April 22, 1915, at Ypres in Northern France. That day, the German army used a chlorine gas meant to exterminate indiscriminately. Until then, war, as described by Clausewitz and practiced by Napoleon, involved attacking the adversary's vital function first. Using poison gas signaled the passage from classical war to terrorism. This terror from the air inaugurated an era in which the main idea was no longer to target the enemy's body, but their environment.

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